Enrique Gili is a freelance writer covering LOHAS( Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), issues for regional magazines throughout Southern California and beyond.
Aside from two natural resource- related internships and a brief stint as a backcountry ranger, I’ve covered environmental issues throughout the course of my writing career. Wilderness ethics, open space, the right to clean air and water are important to me, both professionally and personally.
I live in a test lab for progressive culture on the West Coast, a surf ghetto as renowned for its politics as its beach breaks. Imagine a community bounded by crack shacks and million dollar mansions where main street serves the social and everyday needs of its residents.
People talk to one another even if they don’t have a great deal in common. Ideas and attitudes cross-pollinate in ways that can only occur where open space and public forums are provided. Waspafarians rub shoulders with yummy mummies.
A sense of place provides strong bonds for the community. Although visitors marvel at the natural beauty, long- term residents also understand that preserving the environment is key to the economic well-being of the region.
Tourists flock to the beaches packing hotels and restaurants. Thousands of small- scale farmers deliver fresh produce to consumers. World-class research institutions command sea-side bluffs that attract elite scientists.
Residents, regardless of their political stance, seem to understand that preserving their way of life also requires good governance and forward-thinking political leaders. Even when politicians fail to deliver.
Last November, the staunchly Democratic beach communities went into mourning. Democrats were stunned when Bush was re-elected, left to wonder just how the Presidency could slip though their candidate’s fingers.
In the past four years, the Bush administration had manhandled environmental issues, despite mounting evidence of an imminent crisis posed by global warming and the alarming rate of poverty throughout the developing world.
Imagine our children’s grandchildren many generations from now sitting around a halogen lamp gazing at a scrapbook while ruefully ruminating on their ancestors' 21th century antics as if it were the last great Buffalo Hunt, staring at artifacts like the Hummer and McMansions with three-car garages. “What a bunch of barbarians,” they’ll cry, wondering how the human race got themselves into such a mess, while donning foul weather gear and slathering 40 SPF sunscreen on exposed skin prior to stepping outside.
Alarmist, perhaps. A likely outcome, I hope not.
Is it better than living in a state of denial despite clear and convincing evidence that the health and prosperity of future generations may be in jeopardy?
The environment ought to be a non-partisan issue. Mother Nature doesn't respect state lines or cultural norms separating Red from Blue States.
Despite a pending crisis, we do have options. There are a plethora of steps we can take in this increasingly networked and technology- driven world to improve people’s lives and save the planet. Commonground provides links to news of people, places, and events trying to make a difference.